He followed in his brother’s footsteps but made a mark in the different creative spheres he worked in, on his own. Just like brother Ayushmann, Aparshakti Khurana worked in radio, theatre, television before embarking upon a journey in films. In this exclusive interview, he talks about the super success of Stree, why he has never been compared with his brother, the difference in the spelling of their surnames, his debut film that never saw the light of day and upcoming films.
Right from the time the trailer of Stree was launched, people had good expectations from the film but most people looked at it as a smaller, niche film. Did you expect it to make more than 100 crores at the box-office?
When you are making a film, you do not know how it is going to be received by the audience. In fact, if you set out to make a film thinking that it will make 100 crores, it never ends up making that much money. The intention should always be to make a good film. We made the film with a lot of hard work and passion and I am glad it got so much love from the audience. I know of people who have seen it more than three or four times in the theatre. That, in today’s times, is a rare thing to happen.
Do you follow box-office figures?
I do not keep a track of numbers as such but I am definitely aware of how a film of mine is doing when it is playing in theatres. More than the numbers, it is important to know how the audience is reacting to the film.
You had played interesting but small parts in your last couple of films like Badrinath Ki Dulhania and Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi. You were playing one of the central roles in Stree. Did that make you feel more responsible towards the film as an actor?
I have always been a person who wanted to act. I have never dreamed about being a hero. I never think of a part as small or big. If I like a script I am offered, I immerse myself into the world it set in. As an actor, I was as involved in Badrinath Ki Dulhania as I was in Stree. The only thing I have tried to do is be a part of different films and bring out a different side of me as an actor every time I play a character. I would like to be known as a versatile actor. I have not done too many films but all these films and the characters I have played in them have been very different from each other.
When your brother Ayushmann made his debut, he was seen as an outsider but when you entered the industry, you might have been treated as an insider as your brother was already an established actor by then.
Ever since I made my debut, I have read most of the articles written on me and I can confidently tell you that not a single article has compared the two of us. Both of us are very different as actors and have done dissimilar films. Nobody has accused me of nepotism. I entered the film industry six years after he made his debut with Vicky Donor. I was doing theatre when he got into films. I could have asked him for help back then but I did not. Both of us had our own, individual journeys and have reached wherever we have reached on our own merit.
You did not seek his help to get into the industry but did he inspire you take up this profession?
Of course! I joined radio and worked there for 6-7 years after listening to my brother on radio. I did theatre after watching him perform on stage. As an elder brother, he has always inspired me. I had a brother who knew this craft way before I did, so it would have been foolish not to seek any advice from him. I have followed in his footsteps and hopefully, I have been able to do justice to what it takes to be an artiste. He guides me till date on a lot of things. We discuss the scripts which are offered to us together.
Ayushmann and your surnames are spelt differently. He has an extra ‘N’ in his name and an extra ‘R’ in his surname because of astrological reasons.
A lot of people change the spellings of their name after they come to Mumbai to become stars but that was not the case with my brother. My father is an astrologer and he suggested him to add an extra ‘N’ and an ‘R’ in his name. Right from his childhood, he had an extra ‘N’ and an extra ‘R’ in his name and my name was spelt just the way it is today.
Years back, you had shot for a film called Babbu Ki Jawaani which was supposed to be your first film. What happened to that film?
Yes, we did shoot for that film. That was supposed to come before Dangal. I was playing the main antagonist in that film. It was produced by UTV Spotboy and directed by Amritpal Singh Bindra. That was the time when UTV was on the verge of getting shut. It was one of the films produced by the studio which did not get a release. It was a very interesting film but unfortunately, people might never get to see it.
You have an interesting line-up of films – Rajma Chawal, Luka Chuppi and Jabariya Jodi. Can you share something about these films?
Rajwa Chawal will start streaming on Netflix this November. I play a Haryanvi goon in that film. In Luka Chuppi, when Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon are in a problem, I help them out. Whether my presence helps them or not, that is something you will have to discover in the film. In Jabariya Jodi, there is a love triangle between Sidharth Malhotra, Parineeti Chopra and me.